Sugar Flowers vs Fresh Flowers

White Rose Wedding Cake by S. Weinstock. Image from

I recently wondered: why do we decorators go through all the trouble of making sugar flowers when fresh ones are perfectly beautiful (and natural)?  I tend to lean toward a “natural” flower, rather than a replicated (however gorgeous) flower.

What decorators say

I took a survey on Twitter, and asked: “Do you prefer real flowers or sugar (gumpaste) flowers on your cakes?”  and got some great answers:

  • “Sugar. How awesome is it to have people go right up to a cake wondering if the flowers are real or sugar.” @AtomikJen
  • “Both! Usually becomes a budgeting choice for my couples. Those on a tighter budget use real flowers.” Jennifer Roberts – @SweetElement
  • “Sugar! Some real flowers are poisonous.” Jaime Ho – @jaime_of_wicked 

Gardenias can be eaten in the fresh or sugar form, but these handmade blooms are larger than life! - Cake from K. Sullivan, Image from

Some real flowers ARE poisonous

…and more great tweets.  All with great points.  Most importantly, like Jaime of The Wicked Little Cake Company said, some flowers are poisonous.  Turns out there’s a really long list of poisonous flowers.  Aside from toxicity, there are pesticides, dirt, and other muckety muck things to worry about.  The flowers must be properly cleaned and handled before putting them on your cake.

Which leads me to change my mind about sugar flowers.  I actually like to make them!  Forgive me, gumpaste flowers, I lost my way!

Still, there are perfectly non-toxic, even edible flowers (if you’re into that sort of thing) out there – waiting to be sugared and set atop your cake.  It’s probably a good idea to consult a florist before you use fresh flowers.

The two photos in this post are of cakes that have been decorated with sugar versions of flowers that are actually edible.  However, can you imagine eating all those fresh roses?  Also, the handmade flowers are perfectly customized for each cake.   Food for thought. (Teehee!)

The verdict

Like Jennifer of Sweet Element mentioned, it might be better for the client’s budget to consider using real flowers.  I’m still rooting for fresh flowers, but for maximum customization, the little-to-no-risk of poisoning your clients, and the fun factor, sugar flowers seem like the popular choice for decorators.  Still, it’s all up to you as the artist.  Jade Eye (@marzipandoll) of  Marzipandoll tweeted: “as long as it’s not silk or plastic…”.  So true. :shiver:

Your turn to weigh in!

Cast your vote in the comments – real flowers or sugar flowers?


  1. Daniella says

    real flowers! there is nothing better than getting to eat pansies (stolen from a garden or in a salad… or on a cake!)


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